Deploying the Power of Talk for Toddlers Reaps Academic and Social Rewards As They Become Adolescents

Article Summary:

It sounds like magic, but it’s actually science: conversation is a free, simple, powerful tool to support early brain development. National nonprofit LENA puts this research into action by using individualized data to coach parents and teachers on how to boost early talk and interaction.

“For a parent who’s working long hours and experiencing a lot of challenges, it might not be top of mind for them to provide a language-rich environment for their child,” said Dr. Jill Gilkerson, LENA’s chief research and evaluation officer. “But if we can just educate them on the importance of talking with their child—even when they aren’t yet able to talk to you, it does make such a difference. Even just having a few minutes at the end of the day to sit and read a little. They don’t have to read a book from cover to cover—it’s all about having a conversation about the book. Let them interrupt, ask questions and talk, talk, talk with them. If a parent can do that daily, then they can really improve things for their child.”

Organizations globally are now using LENA programs to enrich their communities’ language environments for children and to build early literacy skills, strengthen families and increase school readiness.